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Take control of your Aura and don’t get type cast

Aura, (NOUN) – ‘distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing or place’. This word has been haunting me. It’s come up multiple times recently in the context of individuals and businesses. It’s reminding me of the work I used to do in branding. Working out what people perceive and think and feel about you/your product or service, and then if that’s not the Aura you want to communicate, taking practical steps to change (via eg your customer care, visual identity, written tone of voice, services, pricing etc etc). This is all around…

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Dealing with challenge, building the muscle – ask Roger Federer

The most popular topic in my training room is Dealing With Challenge (DWC) – how to maintain control and confidence at the moment when we’re thrown onto the back foot by an unexpected question or comment. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who struggle with this, and the extent to which it holds them back professionally and personally. My pet theory is that it’s all to do with technology. When I started work back in 1850 (arriving at the office in a horse-drawn carriage), I had (like everyone else) a desk and a ‘phone (landline). The ‘phone…

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Confidence, resonance and shellac – how to communicate like a pro

My great passion is communication (after George Clooney obviously), and I’m always fascinated to see good and bad practice outside the corporate world which I can bring to the training room. This month, I’ve come across great examples in unexpected places: on the dance floor, in the nail bar and in my living room. All of them reminders of some of the essentials of excellent communication – confidence, relevant content, clear structure and appropriate packaging. In BBC1’s recent The Greatest Dancer (very good, by the way. Worth a visit to iPlayer) a talented classical ballet dancer performed for the live…

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Pantomime – a blueprint for a brilliant presentation (oh yes it is!)

So the pantomime season is over. The Aladdin’s lamps, glass slippers and beanstalks have gone back into storage; the ugly sisters and widow Twankeys have moved on to Pinter and Lloyd Webber, and the country’s theatres are a little less sparkly. As always it’s been a season of sequins and (varying degrees of) smut. But, sitting in the Bradford Alhambra, watching the inimitable Billy Pearce’s Aladdin, it occurred to me that a pantomime is actually a blueprint for an excellent business presentation or pitch. That idea sent me in the direction of actor/writer Nick Mellersh and an illuminating piece on…

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The greatest gift you can give this Christmas – a question!

Last week I was with a group of 11 year olds in a ‘Communication Skills for Life’ workshop. We were focusing on a technique we call ‘Doing a Hairy Granny’. It’s a simple three part structure to empower children to have better conversations with adults (hairy or not) in response to those killer questions such as how’s school, how was your day, did you have a good weekend???????.  It comprises: The headline eg school’s really great this term, thank you Additional information with something from the heart eg we’ve started Latin this term which I thought was going to be boring…

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